Fantasy Football 2012: The Ultimate Sleeper at Running Back

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Fantasy Football 2012: The Ultimate Sleeper at Running Back
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images
Ben Tate: Gary Kubiak's 7th 1000+ yard back?

Ben Tate will have a breakout season in 2012 if given a chance. Despite the fact that he's sitting behind arguably the best running back in pro football right now, Tate is one injury away from glory.

If there's anything I can promise, it is this: If Ben Tate gets his opportunity, he will turn into a top ten running back OVERNIGHT. 

Why?

Gary Kubiak.

Now, ask yourself what the single most important fact about Gary Kubiak is in relation to Ben Tate. If you can't conjure up anything, this might help:

In his NFL coaching tenure, Kubiak has had SEVEN different 1,000 yard rushers, and NINE rushers eclipse the 900 yard mark. Let's count them, keeping in mind Kubiak's job history as offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos from 1995-2004.

1. Terrell Davis (four 1,000+ yard seasons, '95, '96, '97, '98)

2. Olandis Gary (one 1,000+ yard season, '99)

3. Mike Anderson (two 1,000+ yard seasons, '00, '05)

4. Clinton Portis (two 1,000+ yard seasons, '02, '03)

5. Reuben Droughns (one 1,000+ yard season, '04)

Watch and learn

6. Steve Slaton (one 1,000+ yard season, '08)

7. Arian Foster (two 1,000+ yard seasons, '10, '11)

Almost 8: Tatum Bell, 921 Yards in '05, 2nd string behind Mike Anderson

Almost 9: Ben Tate, 942 Yards in '11, 2nd string behind Arian Foster

There you have it folks: Any running back Gary Kubiak turns into fantasy silver, with any back receiving a reasonable hare of carries turning into undeniable 24-karat gold.

But what about the years where Kubiak failed? Doesn't that disprove this theory of yours? Well, these were the only years Kubiak did not have a 1,000 yard rusher. You decide:

2001: Terrell Davis ran for 700 yards after a severe ACL injury in 1999, splitting carries three ways with Mike Anderson and Olandis Gary. Despite this, the team totaled a whopping 1,877 yards on the ground, good for 10th in the league that year.

2006-2007: Gary Kubiak's starting running backs were Ron Dayne and an injury plagued Ahman Green. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt in not being able to turn these guys into studs. Despite, this, Houston put up well over 1,500 yards on the ground both seasons, good for 21st and 12th in the league for those respective years.

Conclusion: In his 17 years of coaching, Kubiak has never been presented a young, healthy running back and not been able to turn him into a 1,000 yard rusher. Why would you bet against the odds, and more importantly, why would you bet against a back as talented as Tate?

What Will Ben Tate's YPC average be in 2012?

Submit Vote vote to see results

The youngster is ultra powerful, has great vision and was ranked the 10th best running back of 2011 by Football Outsiders, based on a metric statistic called DYAR.

DYAR is explained here.

The gist of DYAR (according to Football Outsiders) is that it "represents value, per play, over an average running back in the same game situations."

In Tate's first year, the former Auburn bruiser ran for 942 yards on just 175 carries, good for a substantial 5.4 yards per carry. To put things in perspective, if Tate had received the same amount of touches as starting teammate Arian Foster (while maintaining his YPC average), Tate would have put up 1,500 yards.

When you consider that Foster's carry numbers were reduced due to the fact that he missed three full games and part of a fourth, Tate would have been looking at the equivalent of a 1,900-2,000 yard season with a full season's worth of carries.

Ladies and gentlemen, the numbers are there. Take the kid. He's worth the late round pick, and he will turn your team into a force to be reckoned with if Foster goes down. More importantly,

If you draft Foster, you MUST pick up Tate in the later rounds. That way, no matter who is starting, you will get at least 100 yards and a TD every week.

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